Monday, January 14, 2013

At the Halfway Point

Last year, after reading a book called "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller, I took on the challenge of trying to increase the levels of reading stamina for my kids.  I also joined a literacy team at my school where our first order of business was to order hundreds of books to give away.  It was delightful.

I'm telling you... seeing those kids at that giveaway changed my life.  Everything about it made me remember why books and stories were so important to me as a kid; how important they are to me still today.  Stories are my passport, my escape, my guidebook.

On the first day of school I told my students that we were going to read. Every day. Without fail.  We would treat going to the library like a national holiday.  We'd discuss books and characters and authors as if they were our own.  And we'd have fun.

I set the goal at 40 books per student (with any book over 300 pages counting as 2 books).  After a quick poll, I realized that the average number of books my students read last year was just below 4.  I was pretty nervous that this would be a huge failure.  That kids wouldn't get to 40.  They might not even get to 10.  I reminded myself that it's just a number -- a high number -- but that the real goal was to get the kids to just read more than they ever have.  My goal is to get them to fall in love with reading again.

This was the photo I took on Thursday.  This is our bulletin board where we update once a month.  The number on the left is the number of books read, and the number on the right is the class goal (40 per student in class -- some are adjusted for late arriving students).

That's 946 books since August 27. Or 987 if you count mine as well.  And I do.  Three of my students have already surpassed their 40 book goal and challenged me to double my original goal as well. For the record, last year, I read 21 books (including the summer).  Every student has surpassed their total from last year, and it's only January.  My classroom library has grown from 62 books that hardly ever left the room to 507 books that are constantly being checked in and out, traded and reviewed, loved and hated.

I'd say we're doing pretty well.  Delightfully so.

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